Chavez, Kirchner to Set Up NatGas 'OPEC'

Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez have signed an agreement to set up a natural gas producers and exporters organization modeled on OPEC.

The new entity will be known as Organizacion de Paises Productores, Exportadores de Gas del Sur (Opegasur).

Opegasur's main asset will be the US$20bn, 15,000km-plus Gran Gasoducto del Sur pipeline that initially will connect Venezuela and Brazil and then extend to Argentina and Bolivia.

The project is advancing despite reports of its demise, Jorge Luis Sanchez, president of Venezuela's gas regulator and promoter Enagas, told BNamericas.

The four countries in coming days will meet in Rio de Janeiro to move forward with the pipeline project, Sanchez said.

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA will build the pipeline with technical and market advice from Russia's Gazprom.

Venezuela has been trying to get Bolivia, South America's main natural gas exporter, to synchronize gas prices, particularly export prices for the Argentine and Brazilian markets.

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